Marine Scott Koppenhafer, ex-Adams State wrestler, killed in Iraq

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer -- a former Colorado high school wrestler who went on to compete at Adams State University -- was killed in combat this weekend, the Marine Forces Special Operations Command announced Sunday. He was 35.

Koppenhafer, a critical skills operator with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, suffered fatal wounds after becoming engaged in gunfire while supporting Iraqi Security Forces. The incident is still under investigation.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer
Prior to joining the Marine Corps, Koppenhafer crafted a successful wrestling career. At Mancos High School in southwest Colorado, Koppenhafer was a three-time Class AA state tournament placer, placing sixth at 125 pounds as a freshman, then second at 130 his sophomore year and at 135 as a junior, according to a November 2001 article from the Cortez Journal.

Scott Koppenhafer continued his academic and athletic career at Adams State University, wrestling for the Grizzlies NCAA Division II mat program where he was a teammate of older brother Travis Koppenhafer, who recently had served as a volunteer wrestling coach for the Anamosa, Colo.-based school. Scott Koppenhafer wrestled at Adams State for three seasons; during that time he was able to earn his bachelor's degree with an eye to joining the Marines just that much faster, according to the school.

After graduating from Adams State in 2005, Scott Koppenhafer signed on with the Marine Corps. He had spent the past 10 years as a MARSOC (United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command) critical skills operator. Before joining the Marines special operations, he was a machine gunner with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and later as a scout sniper, completing deployments with both the 31st and 11th Marine Expeditionary Units.

Over the years, Koppenhafer had earned numerous honors, including two Bronze Star medals with Combat Distinguishing Device, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat Distinguishing Device, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, one Humanitarian Service Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, four Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and six Sea Service Deployment Ribbons. Just last year, Koppenhafer had been named MARSOC Operator of the Year for 2018.

Scott Koppenhafer is survived by his wife and two children.

"Our most sincere thoughts are with the family and teammates of Gunnery Sergeant Koppenhafer during this difficult time," a Marines spokesperson said Sunday. "MARSOC is providing care and support to Gunnery Sergeant Koppenhafer's family; we urge respect for their privacy as they grieve this incredible loss."

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.


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